The Good, the Bad
& the Cuddly

Long Southern Nights

Manhunting in Memphis

Mr. December

Moonlighting

The Rancher & the Rich Girl

 
Personal Relations
by Heather MacAllister
(Harl. Tempt. #817, $3.99, PG) ISBN 0-373-25917-4
***
three hearts Teenagers Courtney Weathers and Jeff Ryan need a plan. Both are living with their older siblings and are feeling smothered. Courtney wants to go to film school, but older sis Brooke is insisting on college. Jeff has got to find something that will occupy his big brother Chase's time so that he won't be looking over Jeff's shoulder.

Courtney and Jeff decide to join forces and double-team the older siblings. Their idea is that if Brooke and Chase start dating, then maybe they'll be so caught up in the burgeoning relationship that the two teenagers can run their own lives.

That sounds like a fine plan, only Brooke and Chase aren't cooperating. Brooke, twenty-five, is concentrating on getting her degree, setting a good example for her younger sister, and doesn't want to begin a relationship. When Brooke was a teenager, one irresponsible action set her back financially for several years. She doesn't want Courtney to make the same kind of disastrous mistake.

Chase, too, is trying to set a good example. He's career-minded right now and doesn't even want to take time to begin a relationship. While he finds Courtney attractive, he's not interested.

So what do the teenagers do? They go to plan B, which is to pretend that they're engaged. This faux wedding planning will throw Chase and Courtney together. Surely they'll begin to work together to convince the teenagers that marriage is a really stupid idea at their age.

I have to commend Heather MacAllister on her ingenious set-up. It's quirky, funny and might have worked if she had allowed her heroine to lighten up. Brooke seems too wooden, so one-dimensional that it is difficult to empathize with her.

In an early scene Brooke comes to Chase's office to talk about their plans to derail the wedding. Mutual lust soon takes center stage, and they seem to forget where they are. They're interrupted by the teenagers, who almost come in while both Brooke and Chase are in various states of undress. As it is, Courtney is scrambling to get her clothes back on, but can't find her underwear.

I bring this up because their relationship seems to have only two speeds, lust and avoidance. It's so much of a stop and go feeling that it becomes jerky, which gives the whole story an air of unreality. I think if I had to put my finger on the one thing that seemed wrong with Personal Relations, it would be this feeling of being distanced, of watching a play. I never was able to lose myself in the story. I knew the whole time that I was reading a work of fiction.

Personal Relations has a fun plot line, a strong hero and good secondary characters. What it doesn't have a heroine who's equal to the rest of the story. And her absence is much too noticeable to be able to recommend this story.

--Linda Mowery


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